Sebastian Vettel fastest in final practice ahead of Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying

After setting the fastest lap in second practice on Thursday, Sebastian Vettel once again set the pace for Ferrari in the final practice session of the weekend, just ahead of Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel fastest in final practice ahead of Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying

After breaking the outright lap record around the Circuit de Monaco in FP2 with a 1:12.720, Sebastian Vettel went faster once again in FP3, setting the pace with a 1:12.395 for Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen ended final practice in second fastest, 0.345 seconds slower than his team mate. With the two Ferrari drivers leading this session, the Monaco Grand Prix is looking to be a good weekend for the Scuderia, with the team consistently setting the pace and looking very strong for qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas was the nearest challenger to the Ferrari pair and was the leading Mercedes in the session, setting the third fastest lap. Bottas was 0.435 seconds slower than Vettel – an improvement from second practice which saw the Finnish driver down in tenth place, 1.182 seconds slower than Vettel on his best lap. Bottas’ team mate, Lewis Hamilton, ended the session in fifth place, 0.835 seconds off Vettel and 0.4 seconds off Bottas. With the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari being smaller than it was in second practice, the reigning champions look like they are beginning to get on top of the set up issues that plagued them in FP2. Going into qualifying, it is likely that the team will  find more pace and will close the gap to their nearest rivals in the championship.

Max Verstappen followed Bottas in fourth place and was the fastest Red Bull Racing driver of the session with Daniel Ricciardo sixth fastest. Verstappen was just over 0.5 seconds off the pace from Vettel while Ricciardo was 0.997 seconds adrift, suffering from a brake by wire failure at the end of the session. As Monaco is not a circuit that is reliant on power, Red Bull could be in with a chance of a good result this weekend and look to be on the same level of pace as Mercedes. If both of the Red Bull drivers set clean laps in qualifying, they could jump Mercedes and potentially fill out the second row of the grid.

Toro Rosso again showed their pace in FP3, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat in seventh and eighth fastest. The Toro Rosso drivers were both one second down on Ferrari, however are looking like the fourth best team of the weekend after showing that they both have pace over a long race distance and over one lap. It will be interesting to see how the Red Bull junior team fair in qualifying and where they can put their cars on the grid.

Kevin Magnussen set the eighth fastest lap for Haas F1 while his team mate, Romain Grosjean, continued to struggle this weekend, ending the session down in 16th place. This weekend is shaping up to be competitive for Haas, with Magnussen setting times worthy of a top ten place.

Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten positions in tenth place for McLaren after setting his best lap of the weekend so far, a 1:13.805 – 1.410 seconds slower than Vettel. So far McLaren have looked strong around the streets of Monaco, with Jenson Button also being consistently on the pace around the street circuit after being 13th fastest in FP3. Both drivers face penalties this weekend however, with Vandoorne having a three place grid penalty for colliding with Felipe Massa at the Spanish Grand Prix and Button receiving a 15 place grid penalty after McLaren were forced to change some engine components in their Honda power unit, making the 2009 Champion’s race weekend much more difficult as overtaking is very difficult and near impossible in Monaco.

The Force India drivers of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon ended FP3 in 11th and 13th place, as another strong weekend is shaping up for the team. In the session, Esteban Ocon became the second casualty of the weekend after crashing his car with eight minutes of the session to go, leaving Force India with a large repair job before qualifying.

Williams are continuing to have a difficult weekend in Monaco, with Felipe Massa ending the session in 14th fastest and Lance Stroll only managing 17th. On a circuit that does not benefit the Williams however, this is perhaps unsurprising. Nevertheless, it is important that the team secure some points this weekend after failing to do so in Spain.

Like Williams, Renault are also looking uncompetitive with Nico Hulkenberg only managing 15th place in practice and Jolyon Palmer ending the session in 18th place. This lack of pace will not be helped by the disrupted running that both drivers have had this weekend, with Hulkenberg having an ERS issue in FP1 and Palmer having an engine failure in FP2. Palmer may also be facing a grid penalty going into qualifying after going too fast during a Virtual Safety Car period in FP3.

The two Sauber drivers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the session in 19th and 20th. After coming off a strong weekend in Spain which saw the team secure their first points of 2017, Monaco is shaping up to be a difficult race weekend for the Swiss team.

Results from Practice 3 of the Monaco Grand Prix:

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:12.395
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:12.740
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:12.830
  4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:12.940
  5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:13.230
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:13.392
  7. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:13.400
  8. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:13.563
  9. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 1:13.596
  10. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:13.805
  11. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:13.936
  12. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:13.976
  13. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:14.072
  14. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:14.072
  15. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:14.283
  16. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:14.547
  17. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:14.675
  18. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:15.164
  19. Pascal Werhelin, Sauber, 1:15.291
  20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:15.863

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